REVIEW SUMMARY: Not a good reading experience.
BRIEF SYNOPSIS: Clone of galactic leader searches for his destiny.
PROS: A mercifully short 240 pages.
CONS: Confusing; leaves the reader in the dark; no sense of wonder
BOTTOM LINE: Skip this one
Let me tell you why Fuddruckers annoys me…
For those who don’t know, Fuddruckers is a popular hamburger joint claiming to have the best burgers. Don’t get me wrong, the food is good. And who doesn’t like self-serve cheese sauce? It’s just the business model that annoys me. Bottom line: It’s like a self-serve, overpriced fast food joint. That’s right. You have to get the food yourself (no waitstaff = low overhead = more profit) and you get to pay restaurant prices for it. True, the food is better than your average McDonald’s, but the reason my family goes out to eat is because we want to be served. No waitstaff and inflated prices? If I give them an extra $2, can I mop the floor when I’m done?
So, what does this have to do with a science fiction book? Well, when I was reading Ceres Storm, I felt like I was at Fuddruckers. The publisher gave me a slab of meat and asked me to make my own burger.
The story concerns a young clone of a galactic leader who is raised in an isolated existence on Mars. He is whisked away to the city where he sips a drink of enlightenment, travels to Earth, and must confront his destiny.
Reading this book was a bit of a chore. It felt like the skeleton of a really good story. The plotline was there, but it was severely skimpy on atmosphere and bulk. (That’s not to say that the length of this 240 page book, rather short by today’s door-stopping tomes, was not welcome. On the contrary, I like a good, lean sf story. It just has to deliver on the sf promise: cool ideas, neat technology, vivid and descriptive writing. See Theodore Sturgeon for excellent examples of this.) The coolest technology idea, the computerized “shade” that is inserted into Daric, is not used to maximum effect. He’s more like Estelle Costanza.
More importantly, in Ceres Storm, descriptions of the world/society were sorely lacking. The reader was apparently supposed to intuit a sense of wonder from scores of made-up (and italicized, drawing even more annoying attention to themselves) words whose meanings, mostly, cannot be derived from context. That’s just more work than I want to put into a piece of entertainment.
Fuddruckers-type reading experiences like this make me want to go vegetarian. (I have no idea what that means, it just sounds like a good line to end with. So there.)